The Garden Calls For You

I arrived early that Sunday morning. Learning of her fall, I went to check on her. As she was loaded to the ambulance, I told her it would be okay. I knew in my heart it wouldn’t be – but who am I to argue with the power of prayer?

We grieve the loss of our founder, leader, mentor, and friend. Her impact was immeasurable. The outpouring of love and sorrow at the news, indescribable.

I have found it difficult to find words all this wish-to-be-forgotten year, but the words I had to write on her behalf were the hardest.

Jody’s heart has always been full to the brim with joys and sorrows. It gave and gave for more than twenty years – until today – when it finally gave way.

It is with tremendous sadness that we share the passing of Jody Jones – our founder, leader, teacher, and most of all – our dear friend. Words are incredibly hard to find at this time. None seem sufficient for the impact that this tiny, determined woman had on so many. To live a life of meaning is what we all hope for. Jody lived that and more. She literally made a difference in the lives of thousands. She taught compassion, hope, acceptance, and forgiveness – and to always say “yes, we can.”

And with equal determination, we now say “yes, we can” continue her legacy as she would wish.

Homeward Bound has always been a work in progress. Dreams are like that. You pick up where you left off and you imagine something new. The job of those of us with years of tenure is now to walk in her shoes and inspire the next generation to carry forward the vision. They will make it their own. But at its heart there will always be a bright shining star leading us down the right path following one guiding principle: It’s All About the Dogs.

It was good that our beloved Red went ahead. That way, he could greet Jody at the bridge along with Chelsea, Lucky, and countless others. There is an incredibly special place in heaven for this amazing woman. Filled with birds chirping, endless sunrises, overflowing gardens, and dogs, dogs, dogs.

Godspeed and guide us. We’ll meet you there, dear friend.

For many years, I helped her form her communications. She said I expressed what she felt in ways she could not. It was a collaboration I treasured; seeing through her eyes and sharing what was in her heart. I will miss that – and so much more.

I am exhausted from a week of fielding reporter calls and answering hundreds of emails and posts while juggling work and family needs. When I finally had a moment to just “be” in my sadness, I returned to the neglected garden.

The creatures had been waiting on her return. I had to tell them she would not be back.

At least, not in the way we remember.

Early Sunday mornings were our time. She would come out with her coffee and just wander. We would listen to the chimes and agreed that this was our Sunday church service.

I hung another pair donated in her memory in her garden bed. They are smaller and lighter, and ring freely in the breeze reminding me and the creatures that she is still with us there.

The garden is where I will remember her most. In its own time, it will tell me what to plant or place in her honor.

It was designed at her request. A place of joy. Peace. And remembrance.

She left us years too soon. I know the timing was not her wish. And yet something inside her had been telling her to prepare us for this. In recent years, she tried to step back and let others lead. It was not her nature, though. When she felt it slipping away, she would grab it back. Saving lives was her passion; her reason for being.

Peace and joy be with you my friend.

We should all have such a lasting impact from our brief time on this earth.

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I am a nascent gardener, rescuer, and photographer, chronicling the journey of the dogs at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary near Sacramento, CA - and the Memorial Garden we have devoted to them.

21 thoughts on “The Garden Calls For You”

  1. My condolences on your (and the dogs) loss. In a world where we are inundated with negatives, and generally the undesirables in our world, it is so sad when someone devoted to doing good is taken from us. She clearly left a wonderful legacy of caring for others, and such a role model is a treasure to any society. R.I.P. Jody.

  2. So beautiful and sad. We miss Jody so much but her spirit and mission live on. Thank you for so beautifully expressing her heartfelt thoughts. RIP Jody

  3. Such a beautiful tribute to Jody. Thank you for your heartfelt words. I’m so sorry for your (and our) loss. She was incredibly special. ❤

  4. Oh, so well said “We should all have such a lasting impact from our brief time on this earth.” This is such a beautiful post. Jody’s memory will have life for as long as HBGRR nurtures and places goldens and dogs in loving homes. Nor more noble a purpose has anyone taken than that which Jody embraced. The deep sorrow and joys of a rescue mission is not for the faint of heart. Only a strong love of the beautiful canine soul can arm one for those challenges. We believe that every dog that has come/gone and will arrive at HBGRR carries some of Jody’s spirit. Just look into their eyes and you will see Jody. Thank you for continuing to care for the garden and the dogs. Best from Corie and Poe.

  5. Beautiful heartfelt post. Somewhere in Heaven, Jody and her golden angels are smiling down on you and the labor of love that is the HB garden. Her passing is a stark reminder of just how short life really is. My sincere condolences.

  6. Beautifully written tribute. Jody will be missed. I’m honored to have known her, and those that have been so dedicated to Jody’s and Mike’s mission for Homeward Bound Rescue and Sanctuary.

  7. Thank you so for such a perfectly worded tribute to Jody, I was sure you were the author when I read it. Jody told you what I always feel too, that you are able to always put just the right words together to represent the way so many of us feel. Now we will need to find the path forward that will continue Jody’s legacy and her love for the work of saving the dogs. It IS all about the dogs.

  8. Beautiful tribute to such a wonderful lady. Thankful for Jody for bringing Arby and Olivia into our family. She will be greatly missed but her legacy will continue though Homeward Bound.

  9. She had a heart of gold to take on building a rescue for the golden retrievers. I have had a bunch in my live with house sitting and living with Edna. Our 2 special girls was Miracle and Gizzelle those dogs taught me how wonderful a miracle was being blind and deaf. RIP to all dogs and her. We will miss her

  10. We will miss her positive energy and endless love.
    “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” Author Unknown

  11. I’m sorry for your loss. It’s extraordinary what Jody created. You’ve honored her beautifully with this post. It’s heartbreaking losing someone who is not only a friend, but a mentor and an inspiration. Thank you for sharing more about Jody. The garden lives on along with all the memories you’ve both created there. Your photos, as always, are stunning.

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